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Oral Surgery/bone growth under tongue


Hi Dr. Teig,

I'm a 41 yr old woman. Recently I've noticed that the bones on both sides of my jaw below my tongue seem to be getting larger/ growing to the center.  It's not painful but is getting more noticeable to me.  
A little background.  I've got exceptionally healthy teeth - never even one cavity.  After having my third child I developed Bells Palsy on the right side of my face.  Searching for anything that might help, I went to a dentist about my teeth grinding (stress related I'm sure).  This specialist said I did have TMJ and made me a mouthguard.  For a few years I wore it every night but over the last few years I've not worn it at all because I still seem to clench my teeth even with it in.  So, when I was in for my cleaning last week I asked my dentist and hygienist if this bone growth is anything to worry about and if it could be made worse by clenching my teeth at night.  They seemed unconcerned & said if it really bothered me I could have the bones filed down or ground down (not by them).  
This may be unrelated (and it's embarrassing) but I also snore a lot - I've always blamed that on allergies but when I was younger & my allergies were at their worst I didn't snore.  So I wonder if something in my jaw or bite that might be contributing.

Could this be caused by my teeth clenching?  Do I need to look into this further and if I do what specialty would handle this?

Any advice or direction is greatly appreciated.  Thank you very much for your time!

Holli - First of all, the bone growth you describe seems like a growth called a torus.  This is totally not unusual and many develop it with any problems.  If, however, the individual will be having a lower denture made, then the removal of the torus by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon is performed.  It is not dangerous, but gets in the way of placing and wearing a denture.

Snoring can occur from a few different causes.  The most common is just from sleeping in a bad posture for your neck and your tongue falls back and blocks the back of the throat.  A cause that has become more studied and identified in many individuals is sleep apnea.  It is usually also from the tongue falling back, but most often occurs in an individual that has a small lower jaw.  If the snoring bothers you, have yourself examined by an ear, nost and throat doctor.  

Clenching will not produce snoring.

So if you want to know the cause, see an ENT doctor.  

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Joel S. Teig, DMD, Diplomate ABOMS, retired


I am a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon available to answer questions related to tooth extractions, implant insertion, facial recontruction, facial and oral tumor removal, TMJ dysfunction and various successful treatments, including surgery if all else fails, and occlusal discrepancy requiring orthognathic or jaw surgery.


Board Certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon practicing for over 20 years. Assistant Clincal Professor at State University School of Dentistry.

American Dental Association, American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons

BA- University of Connecticut DMD-University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine Oral and Maxillofacial Surgical Residency - Roosevelt Hospital, NYC

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